The draw for the semi-finals of the Champions League was always going to be interesting and it has thrown up two very intriguing ties.
Premier League Manchester City will face Spanish giants Real Madrid, while German champions Bayern Munich will attempt to get past the massive obstacle that is Atletico Madrid.
Tough for City, but not impossible
Whoever Manchester City got in the semi-finals it would be a difficult draw. Real Madrid may not be a terrible draw for Manuel Pellegrini’s men. Real Madrid are no doubt a very good team, but in the quarter-finals Los Blancos proved that they can be vulnerable in defence.
The likes of Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne have the ability to exploit any weaknesses in that Real defence and that could be the key to progression to the final.
Real Madrid may be a more favourable opponent than say Atletico Madrid, who will just sit back and let you attack, which would not suit City’s game at all.
Real Madrid will attempt to come at City and the Citizens have the attacking players to exploit any space or mistakes at the back. Real will no doubt fancy their chances against Pellegrini’s side.
They have been scintillating going forward in the past few weeks, with the first leg defeat against Wolfsburg the only game they have not found the net in nine games in all competitions.
Cristiano Ronaldo seems to have hit form in front of goal at a crucial time and will be relishing coming up against a highly suspect City backline.
Bayern favourites, but Atletico dangerous underdogs
Bayern Munich started the Champions League as one of the favourites to lift the trophy and sure enough they are in the last four of the competition after making it past Portuguese side Benfica in the quarter-finals.
The German side were always going to be strong with Pep Guardiola at the helm. The semi-final will provide an interesting battle of the wits with Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone, who is now regarded as one of the best tacticians in the world game.
Atletico may head into this game as underdogs, but write them off at your peril. I wrote before the Barcelona tie that Atletico Madrid was probably the last opponent that Luis Enrique’s side wanted to face in the quarter-finals.
In truth Simeone sets-up his team in a way that is a nightmare for a team like Barcelona, who likes to dominate possession and like to play through teams. Atletico almost provide a solid brick wall, which is very tough to get through. I just hope that Guardiola has a big sledgehammer, because Atletico are that difficult to break down.
Bayern have the attacking threat and are the only team in the big European leagues that have conceded fewer goals than Atletico this season. The Bavarians have conceded just 14 goals in the Bundesliga this season, but have been more vulnerable at the back in the Champions League.
Something tells me that this could be a very tight tie, with very few goals, while City and Real Madrid will probably attempt to out-score each other.
Favourites to win the trophy
German giants Bayern Munich have been made the favourites to win the trophy at odds of 6/4, but I do believe they have been handed a harder draw than second favourites Real Madrid.
Atletico are growing in confidence and after they beat the much-lauded Barcelona they will believe they can beat anybody in this competition. However, they may well just come up short in attack.
They found weaknesses in the Barcelona defence and Bayern have looked more vulnerable at the back in this competition than in their domestic league. However, Atletico have a huge dependency on French forward Antoine Griezmann to get their goals.
Fernando Torres has been chipping in with a few goals of late, but the Rojiblancos are not prolific and that may just prevent Simeone’s team winning the trophy.
This season has been a highly-surprising one in the Premier League, but the four Champions League semi-finalists are not majorly surprising. Both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich were talked about as prospective winners at the start of the campaign.
The presence of Atletico Madrid and Manchester City is slightly surprisingly, but considering Atletico’s defensive record and the amount City has spent on strengthening over the last few years it is not a shock to see either in the last four.
I am not quite sure what to make of the draw yet and I am not willing to predict who will win the trophy, but one thing is for sure we are in for four highly intriguing games in the Champions League semi-finals.
Who will win the Champions League?